What is Integrative and Functional Medicine? And how can I learn more?

Many of you have reached out wanting to know more about what integrative and functional medicine exactly is, so I thought I would give a little background about my understanding of the medical discipline and also share some resources on where you can learn more.

 Integrative and functional medicine is just a different way of thinking and understanding disease. It is a holistic discipline that gets beyond the diagnosis by utilizing personalized approaches, both allopathic and alternative, to assess and treat the underlying causes of disease. This approach looks at the interactions between the environment and our genes from prenatal throughout the lifespan and uses this information to understand how and where our diseases are stemming from. This approach doesn’t just merely treat our symptoms based on the standard systems based model; it is considered whole systems medicine that aims to remove our bodies’ imbalances. An alarming percentage of chronic diseases are driven by our environment and by understanding the way this environment interacts with our genes we are able to improve health and restore function through gene expression, balancing hormone levels, optimizing protein networks, etc.

To break it down even further, integrative medicine gives providers the tools to look at all aspects of a person and lifestyle, while functional medicine provides the map to organize and apply this information in a systematic way. I like to think of functional medicine as a subset of integrative medicine. My favorite analogy of describing functional and integrative medicine came from Chris Kresser during the Fat Summit. He explained that if you are walking around with a rock in your shoe conventional medicine would advise you take Advil for the pain, whereas functional medicine would tell you to remove the rock. To me this makes a lot more sense and more closely aligns with the way I want to practice medicine.

Learning about integrative medicine not only sparked an educational passion for me, but also made me reevaluate my approaches to my own health. If you’re like me and want to continue to learn more I have provided some links below to some functional and integrative information websites and books. Never stop exploring!

 

Institute for Functional Medicine

Click Here for an article on environmental contributors to chronic disease.

The Disease Delusion is a book I have just started reading by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, the father of functional medicine.

Ultraprevention is a book written by Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Mark Liponis and is a great introduction into integrative and functional medicine.

 

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